September 15, 2017

Today you should read: Mark 14:1-31

What a rich passage to read today!  

In it we learn about:

  • The woman with the alabaster jar
  • Judas deciding to betray Jesus
  • The Last Supper
  • Peter’s denial of Jesus

I hope you enjoyed reading it – if you haven’t read the passage yet – stop and do that now.  God’s Word is WAY more important than my thoughts.

There’s so much I could say today for Mark 14, but I was most moved by the story of the woman in the beginning of the chapter.  The priests and religious leaders were trying to capture and kill Jesus and He knew it. They were sneaky – but you can never outsmart Jesus.

Jesus went to Simon’s house – the Bible tells us this is the Simon who was cured of leprosy by Jesus.  Leprosy, as you know, was a terrible, incurable disease.  Jesus had healed Simon and they were undoubtedly celebrating this.  

While Jesus is there, a woman anoints Him with an alabaster vial of costly perfume – pure nard.  This was painstakingly imported and used for burial on dead bodies.  It had value because of its characteristics and rarity.  According to the text, it could have been sold for 300 denarii or about $50 (no small sum for the poor in Jesus day).  Immediately Jesus’ critics (and Judas Iscariot) start in – “why wasn’t this sold and the money given to the poor,” they said.  They didn’t care about the poor – this was simply a vain argument to accuse Jesus.

Jesus defended the actions of the woman – “leave her alone” – He said. She’s done a good thing.  Others will hear of her action and her heart.

This story brings up some questions for us to ask ourselves today:

  • What have we given to Jesus recently that cost us something great?
  • Are we quick to criticize others for their costly gifts rather than focus on ourselves?
  • Jesus obviously had the advantage – He could see into this woman’s heart.  What does Jesus see in your heart today?  Selfishness?  Love?  Passion?  Frustration?  Love for God?

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor


September 14, 2017

Today you should read: Mark 13:1-37

What if I said, “Everyone reading this will have a car accident today. Some of you, most in fact, will escape or evade the accident as long as you pay absolute attention to your driving. Keep an eye on the sides of the road, especially side streets where a car may pull out (who knows maybe they read this too). Decelerate a little early as you approach intersections, and keep back from the car in front of you. In this way, many of you will be spared an auto accident.”

Reading this, you know that I am not a prophet, fortune-teller, or skilled magician. However, I bet all of you will pay a little bit better attention as you drive today. Also, in the off chance that one of you actually has an accident, you will most likely think, “Well, I was told this would happen.”

Here is my point, if you knew with certainty that at one moment driving today, the decision you make would be the difference between life or death (and you had to go driving) you would pay 100% attention. That is the point of Mark 13, also known as the Olivet Discourse.

Mark 13 gives a picture of the “end times,” what we call eschatology (the theological term for the study of the end times). Jesus, in the vein of the Old Testament, prophesied a near event, the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., and a far event, the return of the Son of Man, that 2,000 years later has not yet happened.

This passage has two warnings—do not be deceived, and maintain steady obedience. Several times throughout this passage the reader is admonished to “Be on guard.” Verse 37 is a grim echo of this warning, “And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” This relates back to verse 13 and the reason we are to “stay awake,” because “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

The study of eschatology is somewhat confusing and the interpretation of the variety of future oriented passages can be daunting. However, be warned, as one of my professors said, “For you to ignore the prophetic passages of scripture as irrelevant or simply not-to-be-understood, you will be throwing out about a quarter of your Bible.”

I’m not going to lay out all of the eschatological events for you here; one reason is because not even everyone on staff has the same view. What we can agree on, however, and what is more important to maintain in any view of eschatology is the doctrine of imminency. Imminency is the idea that Christ can return at any second, without warning, as verses 32–37 maintain. Although we have the warning of the fig tree in 28–31, and that we should be able to understand the signs of the times, Christ’s return will be sudden and unexpected. Yes, he could have come yesterday when you were fighting with your spouse. Yes, he could have come last week when you were one that website you should not have seen. Yes, he might come during that upcoming meeting where you will be tempted to, not lie, but merely re-position the truth so that you look good.

Imminency is both the carrot and the stick for ministry. We work in light of our eternal hope, but we know this season of grace, this season where we have the opportunity to share the gospel before judgement comes, will only last for a little while longer. Use the time you have!

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

September 13, 2017

Today you should read: Mark 12:28-44

In Mark 12, Jesus’ best friends, the Pharisees, decide to pay him a visit. As usual, they enjoyed tea and crumpets, meaningful encouragement, laughter and even a few side hugs. The chapter ends with them singing Kumbaya by a campfire, adding in a brief rendition of “Friends Are Friends Forever” by Michael W. Smith.

Back to reality (read Mark 12:38-40).

The Pharisees wanted to do anything they could to trip Jesus up on His words and teachings. While they were meant to be teachers of the law, they completely missed the spirit of the Law. That’s what Paul explained succinctly and clearly to the Romans:

No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people. Romans 2:29

By verse 28, you can tell that Jesus had their heads spinning. Every question they threw at Him was answered eloquently with Biblical truth. Now they wanted to see if they could get Him to erroneously describe the fundamentals of Judaism. “What commandment is most important?” they asked. He gave them Deuteronomy 6:4 as well as a summary of the rest of the commandments:

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

Even the Pharisees couldn’t provide a rebuttal. In fact, one of them agreed (read Mark 12:32-33), and Jesus told him that He was getting closer to the Kingdom (v.34).

As Christ-followers, we need to embrace the command given in Mark 12. There are a lot of important things we do as Christians but none more important than to love Christ and love each other. Paul said he would gladly give up everything in order to know Jesus more intimately (Philippians 3). John recorded Jesus saying that the world will be able to identify His disciples by their love for each other (John 13).

Truthfully, we’re all guilty of over-complicating our faith. This reminder from scripture is especially helpful: don’t over-complicate what Jesus made simple. Love God, love each other.

If a Pharisee could comprehend this, hopefully we can too.

By: Todd Thomas – Worship & College Pastor

September 12, 2017

Today you should read: Mark 12:1-27

Today let’s focus in on Jesus. In this passage there are a few things going on. But what we really see in verses 13-27 is Jesus really being seen differently by man. The Pharisees came to Jesus for the purpose of tripping Him up and getting Him to contradict Himself. They talk about money and whether or not to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus however, knows what they are trying to do. He responds by telling them to pay the taxes. This was not Jesus saying that the Roman government was just or unjust. He was making it clear that the kingdom of God transcends all of these things and that is where our focus should be.

The Sadducees do something very similar to Jesus in verses 18-27. They present a scenario and Jesus responds by telling them they don’t know the Bible or the power of God. He essentially is telling them that they are very narrow minded and they are trying to fit God into a box that they have constructed.

I believe that we have all done these things. Whether we were trying to justify something and make it seem right or find a loophole in the scriptures or we are the one who is trying to make God fit what we think He should be. The bottom line is that either of those things comes from a lack of understanding of who God is. That understanding comes from a deep growing relationship with Him. Too often we rely on our own understanding and we become prideful, arrogant and even hypocritical. Would you relieve yourself of the burden of tripping up God today? Would you confess the sin of pride, and ask for the humility necessary to know Jesus more?

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate